About 700 buildings located in areas under the jurisdiction of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation were declared as dangerous structures in a pre-monsoon survey by it, senior officials said.
While the building which collapsed on Monday was not declared a dangerous structure in the survey, nine properties located on Main Road, Old Subzi Mandi, where the incident took place, were kept under the dangerous category, they said.
And, 20 structures were in total declared as dangerous in the Malka Ganj ward, where the building that collapsed on Monday was located, the civic body said.
Promoted by the incident, the municipal commissioner Sanjay Goel on Monday ordered a probe into it and sought a report on it in seven days.
“An inquiry has been ordered by the Commissioner, NDMC into this unfortunate incident to be conducted by the Building Department (HQ), and directed for submission of report within seven days. Further, necessary action against delinquent official, if any, will be taken after receipt of the report,” the NDMC said in a statement.
The commissioner said a fresh assessment of all the dangerous buildings identified in the last survey across the six zones of the NDMC will be conducted.
“In order to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future, a thorough survey of the areas will be conducted again in the next 48 hours especially, of the buildings which have been already identified as dangerous. Those buildings which will be found at imminent risk after the fresh survey will be vacated of its occupants by the corporation, as per the bylaws,” the statement said.
The commissioner has also directed all the zonal authorities to depute zonal engineers for the reassessment of the condition of buildings and structures already declared dangerous, and to take immediate action as per relevant provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, in those cases, which are found at high risk, officials said.
The corporation will also recommend to the government for proper incentive measures for retrofitting or rehabilitation of such dangerous buildings and the rehabilitation of occupants of the buildings till rehabilitation or retrofitting work is completed, the NDMC said.
The safety of old houses and other structures has come into sharp focus as two boys, aged seven and 12, were killed after the four-story building collapsed in north Delhi’s Sabzi Mandi area on Monday afternoon.
NDMC authorities earlier said the building was about 75-years-old. However, later on in the statement, it said the structure was about 50-60 years old structure consisting of four floors.
On the ground floor, a sweetmeat shop was being run, whereas upper floors were reportedly residential in nature. The upper floors were vacant and no construction activity was going on. Further, no complaint regarding any unauthorised construction in the building was received from anyone by the Building Department, Civil Lines Zone, the statement said.
The building, which collapsed on Monday, was located in front of old Robin Cinema, in Malka Ganj ward of Civil Lines Zone of the north corporation, and the whole neighbourhood has small, old buildings aged around 75 years, the officials said.
A pre-monsoon survey was conducted across all six zones of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation in May-June to identify such structures and take remedial action.
“During this survey, 699 properties or structures were found in a dangerous condition and 444 structures were identified as needing necessary repairs,” a senior NDMC official said.
During the survey of Civil Lines zone, 89 properties were found to be dangerous.
All the zonal authorities of the NDMC have already issued notices under section 348 of the DMC Act to owners of all the buildings, identified as dangerous, officials said.
According to the norm, after a structure is declared dangerous or unsafe, but if it is repairable, then the owner is instructed to get it repaired. But if it is too dilapidated then the civic authorities demolish it for public safety.
North Delhi Mayor Raja Iqbal Singh, former mayor Jai Prakash, municipal commissioner Goel and a few other officials also visited the site of the collapse to take stock of the situation.
“There are hundreds of old structures in the area, which are over 75-years-old,” Goel said.
“Rescue and relief operation is going on and debris is being removed. We are trying to find out what caused the collapse of the building,” Goel said earlier in the day.
Civil Lines area was established by the British in the early 20th century after the imperial capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi in 1912.
Recently, an old building in Delhi’s Begumpura area in the NDMC’s Narela Zone, which was declared a dangerous structure by civic authorities, had collapsed.
However, no one was injured in the incident.
Lucky escape for family
It was a stroke of luck for the 13 members of the Aneja family, who occupied three of the four floors of the ill-fated building that collapsed in Sabzi Mandi, as all of them, barring one, were not home when the structure came down.